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Mere Creation: Science, Faith and Intelligent Design [Paperback]

By William A. Dembski (Editor)
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Item description for Mere Creation: Science, Faith and Intelligent Design by William A. Dembski...

Nineteen experts trained in mathematics, mechanical engineering, philosophy, astrophysics, ecology, evolutionary biology, and other disciplines challenge the reigning ideology of materialistic naturalism on both scientific and philosophical grounds, as they press their case for a radical thinking of established evolutionary assumptions.

Publishers Description
For over a century, the scientific establishment has ignored challenges to the theory of evolution. But in the last decade such complacency about its scientific and philosophical foundations has been shaken. As cracks in the Darwinian edifice have begun to appear, many are asking whether a defensible alternative exists. In response to this growing crisis, a movement has emerged among scholars exploring the possibility of intelligent design as an explanatory theory in scientific descriptions of the universe. As Michael Behe has proposed in his landmark Darwin's Black Box, at the cellular level there appears to be a high level of irreducible complexity that suggests design. In this book Behe is joined by eighteen other expert academics trained in mathematics, mechanical engineering, philosophy, physical anthropology, physics, astrophysics, biology, ecology and evolutionary biology to investigate the prospects for this emerging school of thought. Challenging the reigning ideology of materialistic naturalism on both scientific and philosophical grounds, these scholars press the case for a radical rethinknig of established evolutionary assumptions.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Mere Creation: Science, Faith and Intelligent Design by William A. Dembski has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • New York Review of Books - 10/04/2001 page 24

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Item Specifications...

Studio: IVP Academic
Pages   475
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.97" Width: 5.98" Height: 1.34"
Weight:   1.53 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 28, 1998
Publisher   IVP-InterVarsity Press
Edition  Print on Demand  
ISBN  0830815155  
ISBN13  9780830815159  

Availability  63 units.
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William A. Dembski is research professor in Philosophy at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. A mathematician and philosopher, he is also a senior fellow with Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture in Seattle. Dembski has appeared in discussions about intelligent design on the BBC, NPR, PBS, CNN, FOX News, ABC Nightline and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

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Reviews - What do customers think about Mere Creation; Science, Faith & Intelligent Design?

Shows How "Intelligent Design" Is Truly Re-packaged Creationism  May 25, 2007
Quite possibly the most important reason to read this book is to see how strong the philosophical links are between "Intelligent Design" - which some of their staunchest advocates claim isn't "creationism" - and religiously-oriented, so-called "scientific creationism". Regardless of where the authors earned their academic degrees (Incidentally, one of the most deceitful tactics of "scientific" creationists is to emphasize where they obtained their academic training, as though the mere possession of their degrees has earned them the unquestionable right to criticize evolutionary biology when they have no academic training in nor credible understanding of it.), these papers demonstrate sadly their lack of understanding - or maybe their profound disregard - for the scientific method and the necessity of offering rational, truly rigorous, scientific explanations to demonstrate why their brand of "creationism" is truly scientifically "better" than evolution in accounting for Earth's biological diversity and its amazing history as told from paleontological and molecular biological data. The best they can do is some rather skillfull arm-waving in pointing out what they perceive are problems with evolutionary biology (For the record I should note that I am probably more symphathetic with the likes of the late Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge among others, who have argued for years that our current understanding of the Modern Synthesis Theory of Evolution is incomplete, without taking into account both the hierarchial nature of biological diversity, and how that hierarchy was derived, and recognizing the important of evolutionary stasis in geological time as a trait that's probably common for most multicellular organisms throughout Planet Earth's history of life, than with those like Richard Dawkins who've argued vehemently for a more reductionist approach to our understanding of biological evolution.In plain English, just because I recognize some problems with current evolutionary theory, doesn't mean that I am prepared to disregard it, since it is substantially much better in explaining Earth's biological diversity than any version of "scientific creationism" I can think of, including "Intelligent Design".). Instead of purchasing this book, any of those I've cited in my this Listimania! list (http://www.this would be far more rewarding, intellectually speaking, than this anthology of papers which demonstrate convincingly - and I might add in stark contrast to the vehement denials of its supporters - the religious origins of every variety of creationism, not the least of which is so-called "Intelligent Design". Indeed, I suppose that this book is among the earliest, best instances, why sensible, rational people recognize that "Intelligent Design" is merely re-packaged creationism. If you are truly interested in buying this book, then you ought to consider instead a textbook on Klingon Cosmology, since Klingon Cosmology, like creationism, depends upon faith, not reason, in articulating and defending its principles.
What junk!  Dec 15, 2006
Although I have a BS and MS in mechanical engineering from conventional schools, I do not consider myself a stereotypical hard-boiled scientist. I do not immediately discount unconventional theories, I am open to spiritual ideas, and I am not an atheist. I did purchase and begin to read this book with a completely open mind; I was genuinely curious about what this "Intelligent Design" stuff was all about.

I was utterly disappointed to find that this book is a bunch of ignorant tripe, full of poorly-supported opinions argued with possibly the WORST logic skills I have been astonished to encounter.

If you are interested in how life has come into being and how it came to be the way it is today, by all means, I suggest conventional science as the first step. If you are interested in religion, philosophy, and the spiritual side of nature, I suggest conventional religion as the first step. I must conclude that "Intelligent Design" is a trashy attempt to disguise the latter as the former, which ends up being horrible at presenting either.

This is such irritating trash. I was completely incapable of finishing even the first chapter, and I am a compulsive reader who will read almost anything (like the cereal box, over and over, or even trashy supermarket tabloids when I am waiting in line!). I could not even bear to donate it to the library, as I usually do with books I've finished, because I could not bear the thought of passing it on. I had to dump it into the recycle bin.
A Comprehensive Volume Applying Intelligent Design to Many Fields of Science  Jun 21, 2006
This volume contains essays by numerous Discovery Fellows who presented at an early intelligent design conference at Biola University in 1996. As Henry F. Shaefer III explains in the forward, the conference was not a typical "creationist" event, as "virtually none of the conference participants were creationists of the sort one frequently reads about in the popular press" and "a very large majority of the participants had no stake in treating Genesis as a scientific text" (pg. 9). The conference even included non-Christian participants, for Phillip Johnson stated in his concluding address that he "would welcome to this group earnest atheists who are convinced there must be a better scientific explanation of life than the dominant mutation/selection scenario." (pg. 9)

The essays cover a wide range of topics. Philosopher and mathematician William Dembski (Introduction) explains that science need not fear invoking design now that rigorous criteria can distinguish between designed and non-designed objects in nature. Biologist Jonathan Wells (Chapter 1) recounts that only the principles of design engineering applied to biology can account why widely different species are "convergently" found to have the same genes. This conclusion is reiterated by philosopher of biology Paul Nelson (Chapter 6) who recounts the re-usage of embryonic regulatory genes in widely different organisms. Michael Behe (Chapter 7) explains that the many irreducibly complex systems in the cell "not only are tall problems for Darwinism but also are the hallmarks of intelligent design." (pg. 179) Siegfried Scherer (Chapter 8) develops a design-based "basic type biology" view of systematics and taxonomy, which is then applied by paleoanthropologist Siegried Hartwig-Scherer (Chapter 9) to the hominid fossil record, concluding that our genus Homo belongs to a distinctly designed "basic type" from the ape-like genus Australopithecus.

Ecologist and trained evolutionary biologist Jeffrey P. Schloss (Chapter 10) explains that Darwinian accounts of altruism through "kin-selection" fail to account for the wide range of human behaviors, which often are antithetical to familial reproduction. He concludes that a design paradigm could have radical implications for explaining basic human needs for relational intimacy and wide-ranging cultural proscriptions for the "golden rule." Hugh Ross (Chapter 15) recounts the dozens of cosmic "coincidences" which permit advanced life to inhabit our universe, concluding that design is the best explanation. Finally, mathematician David Berlinski (Chapter 17) explains that Gödel's theorem implies the specified complexity inherent in nature cannot be accounted for by mechanistic Darwinian causes.

The book also contains advice both for established scientists and younger scholars interested in pursuing design as a science. Social commentator Nancy Pearcey (Chapter 3) warns that design theorists must be wary that they will likely face many of the same red herring political, theological, and philosophical objections which Darwin's supporters used to fight design in the 19th century. Finally, Phillip E. Johnson (Afterward) explains that Johnson explains that design critics will try to resurrect the "Inherit the Wind" stereotype by labeling design theorists as close-minded religious fundamentalists, when in reality it is evolutionary science that is based upon naturalistic dogma rather than hard experimental data. Bruce Chapman (Postscript) explains that the driving force of opposition in this battle is the cultural entrenchment of materialism.

Critics who read this book will be impressed by the wide range of disciplines which can interact with the design hypothesis. After a brief peruse at a volume like this, objections that intelligent design is a "science-stopper" are exposed as hot air which dissipate into a puff of smoke. The undeniable conclusion is that design is a serious intellectual project.
A few comments  Feb 4, 2005
I find it odd that Creationists and Intelligent Design proponents think that humans are so special and "highly evolved," when they're really not. I mean, they are, in the sense that we're at the top of the animal kingdom, but that's not saying much. Humans are still very imperfect and poorly designed in many ways, exactly would one would expect from evolution, not a supreme deity. In some ways a cockroach, which can live without food and water for almost a year and is almost impossible to kill compared to a human, is far more impressive.

For example, consider one of Behe's prime examples. Behe started much of the current debate with his book, Darwin's Black Box, so I'll use one of his major examples, and in fact it was the main lynchpin of his entire argument in the book about the case for intelligent design.

Behe specifically claimed that the flagellar motor couldn't work if even one protein was missing, and that therefore it couldn't have evolved by chance, since dozens of seemingly specific and complex proteins comprise the motor. Unfortunately, he had no basis on which to make that claim. When it was looked at, it was found that up to 1/3 of the proteins could be missing--not exactly the kind of precise and closely engineered mechanism that implies intelligent design.

It's the same with the blood clotting mechanism too. Behe claimed the very complex clotting process similarly couldn't have evolved because of it's complexity. Actually, the blood clotting mechanism has many poorly designed features and is really overly complex for what it actually does, which could be done much more simply had it actually been created by design. This is because it evolved piecemeal over time by means of evolution.

For example, the blood clotting mechanism has a serious defect in that it varies between males and females in exactly the opposite of what one would expect. In men, the coronary arteries are susceptible to atherosclerotic plaque build-up as a result of increased platelet instability and adhesion, which doesn't happen in females. Hence, men seem specfically designed to have heart attacks as a result of a flawed mechanism in the blood-clotting process involving the platelets, which when ruptured, release the nerve-transmitter serotonin which causes spasming and contraction of the blood vessels to limit hemorrhaging. Certainly males, who are more likely to be involved in physical pursuits and such things as warfare need efficient blood-clotting--but they don't need heart attacks, either.

The human brain is an area I know something about, that being my speciality, and the brain is another good example of poor design. The human brain is certainly very impressive in many ways, but it's far from perfect, and suffers from some serious design flaws. For example, tiny malfunctions such as strokes can cause huge or even fatal deficits in brain functioning. A good example is Broca's area on the lateral sulcus of the brain, which controls the motor movements of the face required for speech. It is a unilateral center and not even bilateral, and hence one stroke can knock it out completely and cause total aphasia and loss of speech. Small strokes in the occipital cortex can cause dyslexia, and very small strokes in the hippocampus, an area of the limbic system involved in memories, can cause devastating memory deficits. Again, not a very impressive picture for something that was supposedly "created by design" by a supreme deity.

The human skeletal system also has many serious design flaws. For example, many knee problems would be eliminated if human and mammalian knees bent the other way (as in birds). The reason this is the case is that a bird's knee is actually it's ankle joint, but the same thing could have been done for mammals. The joints of mammals are also too small for the stresses placed upon them, and increasing their size by only 20 percent would provide enormous relief from many syndromes such as arthritis and normal age-related wear and tear.

The heart is another organ that has a tremendously flawed design. Unlike the human brain, which at least has a few parallel backup circuits built-in, the heart has only two major conduction systems, the sino-atrial node and atrio-ventricular node, and a malfunction in the later can cause instant death and in the former can cause serious heart problems, although it's not fatal.

All of these imperfections and flaws in design are exactly what one would expect of biological systems, which aren't very efficient or well-designed, but are actually rather messy with either too many redundant features, as in the flagellar motor, or insufficient with poor redundancy and backup features, as in the human brain and the heart, or under-designed and under-engineered and so inadequate for their task, such as the joints.

Another way to think about this is, even if it were true that the molecular complexity of cellular mechanisms is so precise and specific that it couldn't have evolved by chance, that also implies that one very small flaw can bring down the entire system--which is often the case, too. So, is that an argument for intelligent design--or for evolution? It depends on whether you're concentrating on the things that were gotten right vs. the things that were gotten wrong. So at the very least, there is in fact no way to decide the issue in that sense. However, considering the designer was supposed to be God, who is supposed to be omniscient, the many flaws and single points of failure argue against that. (Even beginning engineering students understand not to design critical systems with single points of failure).

So, to sum up, why the intelligent design types think such a poorly designed organism is grounds for positing an intelligent agent behind the design is beyond me. If there is, then perhaps God is just a beginning grad student in a God university somewhere in hyperspace and we're his first major research project, because he really doesn't know quite what he's doing yet. :-)

But despite all these problems, I give the book 3 stars for trying.
once again, a failed arguement  Mar 14, 2003
This book takes a much more objective approach to presenting a theory of Intelligent Design yet fails to deliver and ends up failing in the same way every other pro ID book fails: bad science, logic, and premise. The major benefit of this book is a somewhat rigorous attempt to examine current and past problems with Evolution. In fact, the book is really better viewed as yet another examination of Evolution and its problems with no alternate hypothosis provided. The idea of Intelligent Design is constantly presented but never backed up with evidence, only assertions and hand waving.

I had hoped that this was the book that would finally present Intellgient Design in the true scientific light as Evolution has been shown


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